Mr Albert George Ervine was born at Clement Vale, Rosetta Park in south Belfast, Ireland (modern-day Northern Ireland) on 2 August 1893.
He was the son of Albert Ervine (b. 1 March 1860), a poor rate collector, and Helen Jane Gowans (b. 19 January 1862). His father was originally from Co Down whilst his mother was born in Perthshire, Scotland to druggist William Gowans and the former Jane Clement.
Albert and Helen were married in Perth in 1887 before returning to Ireland and initially settling in Ballynahinch, Co Down where they started their family, moving to Belfast before the close of the 1880s.
Albert had five siblings: William Gowans (b. 28 October 1887), Emilie Margarite (b. 29 April 1889), Helen Clement (b. 16 March 1897), Maxwell Clement (b. 5 August 1900) and Basil Sidney (b. 21 February 1905).
Albert's family were Brethrens—conservative and non-conformist Evangelical Christians—but on census records stated no denomination or "commonly known as Brethren". On the 1911 census Albert would identify as a Protestant, perhaps to identify himself as a unionist when, at the time, Ireland was on the verge of the "Home Rule Crisis" and becoming increasingly tense and divided along sectarian lines, especially in Belfast.
Albert first appears on the 1901 census of Ireland; the family were then living at 1 Old Cavehill Road in Clifton, north Belfast. He was educated at the nearby Belfast Royal Academy, followed by the Methodist (Methody) College in South Belfast, and then the Municipal Technical Institute. He spent part of his apprenticeship with Coombe, Barber & Coombe before going to the Harland & Wolff shipyard to study marine electronics.
By the time of the 1911 census Albert and his family were living at "Merryfield", 16 Old Cavehill Road, Belfast and he was described as an unmarried electrician.
Ervine was engaged upon electrical work on the Titanic during her construction and also on the Orient Line's Maloja. He served on board the Maloja during her maiden voyage and then joined the White Star Line, being appointed to the Titanic alongside his friend Alfred Middleton, assistant electrician who, like Albert, was a member of the Brethren.
Indeed, both men reportedly petitioned the White Star line to be transferred to the Titanic together for her maiden voyage.
Ervine was on board the Titanic for her delivery trip to Southampton and when he signed on again in Southampton on 6 April 1912 Albert gave his address as Merryfield (Old Cavehill Road), Belfast and his previous ship as the Maloja. As electrician he could expect monthly wages of £8. At 18-years-old he was the youngest among the engineering department.
Aboard Titanic he penned his mother a letter which was posted in Queenstown. In it he described the near-New York collision (although he incorrectly identified the ship as Oceanic) from his vantage point at the top of the aft funnel, and also the testing of the watertight doors. He went on to reassure his family that the Titanic could not sink, such was her fortification.
Albert Ervine died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified. His estate, valued at £50, was administered to his father on 31 July 1912.
Number 93. Ervine, father. Grant £25. — Mansion House Titanic Relief Fund
The following memorial appeared to Albert in the Belfast Newsletter on 15 April 1913:
ERVINE--In loving memory of Bertie, the loving and beloved son of Albert and Helene Jane Ervine, who perished with the S.S. Titanic in Mid-Atlantic on 15th April, 1912.
"O the depth of the niches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are His judgements, and His ways past finding out!"--Rom., xi, 33.
Several of Albert's siblings left Ireland in the following years; Maxwell migrated to Toronto and married there in the 1920s. William migrated in the early 1920s and initially settled in Baltimore. Albert's own parents also left Irish shores and settled in St Petersburg, Florida in the 1930s.
Albert's mother died in St Petersburg in 1942 and was buried in Royal Palm South Cemetery. His father eventually died in Blackpool, England on 24 February 1953 aged 92.
William, Albert's brother, was married and had a son named Albert William Gowans (b. 1922). He later resettled in Florida and died on 24 November 1973.
My Great Uncle (Albert George Ervine) was an Assistant Electrician and wrote a letter to his mother (as referenced on this webpage